Thursday, November 20, 2014
MANILA-Government’s massive feeding program for undernourished children next year will cover even those not yet in school, as two million 2 to 5 year old tots will be fed healthy meals by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.
Recto said this will be made possible through a P3.36 billion allocation in DSWD’s P109 billion budget for 2015.
Recto said there will be “a division of labor” in government in erasing the nutritional deficiencies of millions of “wasted and severely wasted” children.
The DSWD will take care of those not yet in school while the Department of Education will undertake its own supplemental feeding program for 1.93 million gradeschoolers courtesy of a P3.8 billion allocation in the national budget.
The Senate, he said, has raised the Education department’s schoolfeeding budget by P2.49 billion.
“Combined, the budget for supplemental feeding is about P7.2 billion while the total number of beneficiaries will reach almost four million,” Recto said.
DSWD's program involves serving one hot meal a day for 120 days to 2,053,383 2-5 year olds in daycare centers, or those under the care of neighborhood associations or community nurseries.
Bulk of the funds will be coursed through local governments, Recto said.
“But the implementation will be handled by a local consortium which will include the parents of beneficiaries, barangay councils, and civic groups.”
“I think the program will operate under the motto ‘It takes a village to feed a hungry child,’” he said.
Recto said the Senate Finance subcommittee he chairs has also recommended to increase the DSWD budget for care and nutritional needs of streetchildren by P50 million.
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda, Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, is proposing to include in the 2015 National Budget a provision that will ensure the protection of heritage sites and structures all over the country.
Citing the destruction of many historical structures—among the most recent include the Art Deco Michel Apartments, the Army and Navy Club and the Admiral Hotel in Manila, the Bancal Bridge in Zambales Province, and the Dampol Bridge in Nueva Vizcaya—Legarda said that Congress must act now to protect the country’s built heritage.
“We wish to propose a special provision that would prevent the use of public funds for infrastructure projects that will destroy or alter built heritage, open spaces, and cultural landscapes regardless of whether or not these were previously declared by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), or the National Museum,” she stressed.
The Senator said that renovation of built heritage and infrastructure projects on heritage sites will only be allowed after due consultation with the public and stakeholders, which consultation shall be administered by the NCCA. She said that there might be instances when such infrastructure projects may be necessary especially if the heritage structure may put at risk public safety.
Moreover, Legarda also proposed a special provision for the preservation and restoration of existing Gabaldon school buildings as part of the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage.
Gabaldon school buildings were designed by American architect William Parsons and funded through Act No. 1801 authored by Philippine Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon. They have high ceilings, spacious corridors and rooms that are divided by wooden collapsible partitions with wide windows made up of capiz shells.
“I am confident that our agencies tasked to protect our culture and heritage are committed to their duty. That is why we continue to empower them by providing them with sufficient budget and manpower. These special provisions aim to give further support to our cultural agencies to effectively carry out their mandate,” said Legarda.
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today underscored the urgent need to address the growing misinformation and misunderstanding about Ebola.
Drilon said the flak received by acting Health Secretary Janette L. Garin when she went to Caballo Island highlights the need to step up information campaigns about Ebola.
“There is undeniably a growing misunderstanding about the disease which creates unnecessary panic and anxiety among our people. I myself have a very limited knowledge about the virus and so do my colleagues,” said Drilon, adding that many Filipinos are unaware of the on the nature and symptoms of Ebola, hence the panic and fear.
“That is why the government must immediately intensify its information dissemination campaign in order to allay fears and prevent the spread of speculations and rumours which only confuse the public,” Drilon stressed.
“At this time when Ebola is a threat, I appeal to everyone to allow the experts to speak and educate the public. Let us avoid creating undue fear and panic. Let us be united in maintaining our country’s Ebola- free status,” Drilon emphasized.
The Senate leader also said he believes that Garin, as the chairperson of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Philippine, was only performing her duties when she went to Caballo Island to ensure that the Filipino United Nation Peacekeepers are afforded the proper medical care.
“Peacekeepers were checked and nobody was symptomatic when the inspection was conducted,” noted Drilon.
“As a health professional, Garin is fully aware of her actions. Let us not go overboard. I believe she will avoid actions that will endanger the public,” he added.
Drilon also said that he was informed by DOH that the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPEs) is only required when in close contact with a person who is displaying the symptoms of Ebola. PPEs are also in limited supply around the world, hence the DOH is ensuring that PPEs are used properly only when needed.